At the press conference held today in Tokyo, the leading Shooto promoter, Sustain has unveiled the partial lineup for the upcoming Vale Tudo Japan 2009.
The announcement of the opponent for Takanori Gomi (30-5, 1 NC) highlighted the presser: Sustain representative, Kazuhiro Sakamoto admitted that the search for Gomi's opponent in what will likely be the former PRIDE lightweight king's last bout had gone astray and took much longer than expected.
Alas, with about two weeks left until the show that is scheduled for Oct. 30 at JCB Hall in Tokyo, Sakamoto and Co. secured Gomi's opponent in the current King of the Cage lightweight champion, Tony Hervey (11-4).
Hervey, a twenty four year-old Warren, MI native, holds notable victories over Victor Valenzuela and Alberto Crane. With a background in wrestling, muay thai, and taekwondo, Hervey is a fleet-footed southpaw who is equally sound offensively and defensively on the feet: A proficient striker who is adept at slipping and weaving through punches, he also boasts explosive takedown and fierce, ground-and-pound.
Sakamoto commented that Hervey is a "lithe, aggressive, and dangerous opponent" whom no fighter can trifle with -- if this will indeed be Gomi's last fight in Japan, Hervey should more than fulfill his role in the momeroble occasion. He added that, while Hervey is still unknown in US, he likely will gain recognition in near future, and thus a good measuring stick for Gomi's success in the US.
Gomi, who attended the press conference, seemed cautious about facing the promising albeit little-known prospect. He noted that Hervey likely will be a tricky opponent due to his explosiveness, agility, southpaw stance, and his arsenal of kicks. Comparing Hervey to his past opponents, Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett and Luiz Azeredo, Gomi promised a fast-paced action from the opening bell that will live up to its billing as the main event.
Gomi seems fully focused on the bout, as he has put aside his pursuit of professional surfing license and been hauled up in the gym. He also reiterated his desire to challenge himself overseas, citing UFC as one of his potential destinations.
Gomi-Hervey is scheduled for the five-round main event under the special "VTJ" rule we previously reported on. The title match between "Lion" Takeshi Inoue and Alexandre "Pequeno" Nogueira will also proceed as a five-rounder under the VTJ rule. On the other hand, the 155-pound title bout between Kenichiro Togashi and Nova Uniao prospect, Willemy Chiquerim will be contested as a three-rounder.
The additional bouts announced at the presser include a bantamweight bout between Mamoru Yamaguchi and Jesse Taitano under the Shooto rule and 143 lbs. bout between Tenkei Fujimiya and Tito Jones. Also, this year's 167-pound rookie tournament champion, Yoichiro Sato has been added to the line-up against as-yet unnamed opponent.
Elsewhere, the Shooto legend, Rumina Sato is still without an opponent. Sakamoto stated that, per Sato's wish, he has been looking stateside for an opponent, listing Urijah Faber's gym as one of the places he has contacted.
Here is the current VTJ line-up:
71kg/156 lbs. - VTJ Rules - 5R x 5 min.
Takanori Gomi (30-5, 1 NC) vs. Tony Hervey (11-4)
65kg/143 lbs. - VTJ Rules - 5R x 5 min.
"Lion" Takeshi Inoue (16-3) vs. Alexandre Franca Nogueira (13-5-2)
Shooto Welterweight (70kg/155.3 lbs.) Title Match - 3R x 5 min.
Willamy Chiquerim (14-1) vs. Kenichiro Togashi (10-6-5)
56kg/123.5 lbs. - Shooto Rules - 3R x 5 min.
Mamoru Yamaguchi (20-5-3) vs. Jesse Taitano (7-5-2)
65kg/143 lbs. - Shooto Rules - 3R x 5 min.
Tenkei Fujimiya (7-4-2) vs. Tito Jones (6-3)
Rumina Sato (24-14-2) vs. TBA
Yoichiro Sato (5-1-1) vs. TBA
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more updates on Vale Tudo Japan 2009 as they become available.